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A debate on affirmative action in higher education admissions will be held at Colby College in Waterville on Thursday, May 1, at 7 p.m. in the Page Commons Room of Cotter Union. Terence Pell of the Center for Individual Rights will call for an end to the use of racial preferences in higher education admissions. Gerald Torres of the University of Texas Law School will support the use of such preferences. The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Pell is president of the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), a nonprofit public interest law firm that brought suit to challenge the affirmative action programs of the University of Michigan. Prior to joining CIR in 1997 Pell worked as an attorney with the firm of Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn. Pell was also Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights under William J. Bennett. He later served as General Counsel and Chief of Staff under Bennett at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Pell’s articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Academic Questions and Philanthropy. In addition Pell regularly appears on television and radio and participates in panel discussions on CIR’s cases and issues.

Torres is H.O. Head Centennial Professor in Real Property Law at the University of Texas Law School and is president-elect of the Association of American Law Schools, the scholarly organization of law professors. A leading figure in critical race theory, Torres is also an expert in agricultural and environmental law. He has served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and as counsel to then U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. His recent book, The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy, written with Harvard law professor Lani Guinier, was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “one of the most provocative and challenging books on race produced in years.”

The debate is sponsored by Colby’s William R. and Linda K. Cotter Debate Fund, the Pugh Community Board and the President’s Office.